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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pie Over Scotland Part 2 - Another Bit of the 2012 TGO Challenge

So, we left our hero (me) stuffing his face and getting rat-arsed in Drumnadrochit. This went well.

The next morning, a stroke of luck (prolly another omen) saw me have a lazy breakfast and a stroll down to Temple Pier where Mr Menzies boat was already heading out towards Inverfaigaig. The stroke of luck was that he spotted me sobbing on the pier and turned around. There was strident, happy music and the sun glinted on the egg yolk in my beard as I leapt aboard and hugged the man till it was time to chug off into the distance. It doesn't do to snog a sea captain, apparently.

Pieter was on the boat. Pieter is Dutch and walks very fast, specially uphill, which is strange for a Dutchman since contours are strictly banned in Holland and you don't really get any till well over the border.

But after assaulting the decrepit and heaving pier of loose boulders at Inverfarigaig, we walked together , on and off, for the next few days.

The weather was quite good at first. Then, on reaching the first proper hill, it started snowing. Then the sun came out for ten minutes, then it snowed again. We stopped at a little bothy where there were other challengers. The one who couldn't pronounce anything at all - not even Englissh place names, never mind gaelic ones, decided to camp. Me and Pieter launched over the high moor - up to about 740 metres then down the other side where a lad was digging out track ditches with a JCB. We chatted and a bit further on, his boss, apparently the ghillie, accused us, well, he looked at me at the time and said we'd be springing his bridge traps.  I shrug at the idea, but I hadn't sprung any traps. Not that day anyway...

We camped in a pretty spot amongst juniper and with a nice water supply at the top of Glen Mazeran.

I noticed that my spork was broken. This was an omen. Stirring dehydrated food, or, indeed, porridge, with half a spork is a hot business on the ends of the fingers. I improvised with other tools and sticks and things...

In the morning, I left before Pieter who was busy drawing contours on a map of Delft and Environs with a brown coloured felt-tipped pen and wandered down Mazerandale to find two tents and a sort of green flappy thing parked on the other side of the beck near a footbridge. I went to collect the campsite fees.

The tents and the little green thing were occupied by JJ, Louise and Denis Pigeon (Denis used to draw Desperate Dan cartoons and is, therefore, a childhood hero of mine). They seemed happy, if a bit knackered and cold and JJ lent me his spoon. This is trail angel stuff.  he lent me his spoon. His own spoon. I could stir. I could put accurate measurements of sugar in my tea. I could signal to aircraft (it was a metal spoon) I could balance a spoon on the end of my nose. Bless 'im (sniff...)  JJ also gave me all of the pics in this post except one.

Pieter turned up and we continued. At the very first big hill, it started snowing again. We brewed briefly in a bijoux bothy (thats enough stuff beginning with B ya bugger) and went to the top of Carn Dubh where there is a lovely electrified fence - and down towards the Red bothy where, as luck would have it, another bijoux bothy gave us shelter from yet another fierce squall. But what was this inside the bothy....? Boxes of cutlery....!?  One box in particular held plastic spoons. Five hundred plastic spoons. There are now 498 plastic spoons. I'm afraid I pinched two. However, if the owner of the spoons should contact me I will gladly return the spoons with interest (I could send back three spoons) - or I could make a suitable donation to a charity of their choice. It would have to be cutlery based, though.

Then we were at the Red Bothy where others were camped nearby, but didn't venture out of they're tents. This was a pity, really, because we lit a fire, which was, occasionally, huge and cheerful. JJ, Denis and Louise turned up and we had a convivial night of eating, drinking, rude jokes (Denis) and unlikely TGO tales. Outside it chucked it down. By bed time it was snowing.

In the morning, the familiar small-tent syndrome and a grey-muffled dawn told me that my akto was buried in white stuff. I variously kicked or punched off lots of avalanche from inside and peeked out. The world was white and swirling. A time/space continuum warp had taken us back to December. this was good because I really like Christmas.

I returned JJ's spoon, removed some of the snow from their tents and plodged off for the Burma Road. This was bleak. I arrived in Aviemore by mid May and went to Tescos for more scotch and to an outdoor shop for a spork (titanium now...) - and to the Bridge Inn where I met Andy and Pieter and ? some others..../ and scoffed very posh scoff which was just OK compared with better, much cheaper scoff I had later in the trip.

I walked to Glenmore with Andy by the Cairngorm Club footbridge. It was May again. Just a bit cold.

Was that the end of the spoon incidents? Find out in the next episode where it snows again and we visit the very lovely Cairngorm Mountains which are arctic, y'know.


Louise said...

It was a bit like that.

Alan Sloman said...

That Pieter has a lot to answer for. There are reports from Delft of a new project to construct their own mountain.
The project is being supported by the European Union Renewables fund. The hill is to be made entirely from snapped sporks and empty brown felt pens

Dawn said...

Fantastic Mike. There is a rumour going around that the local haggis, (or haggi, the plural version) sometimes get tired of all the TGO types tramping all over their domain. Well they are of a shy disposition. But their are unconfirmed reports of them sneaking in to tents and snapping spoons. It is known they have a propensity to causing mischief to campers by making things disappear and then replacing them in obvious places!!!!

chrissiedixie said...

So there's the snow...!
Looks like great fun - think I'm going to have to seriously think about this once I'm properly free from the constraints of school holidays!

Alan R said...

Sporking good read Mike. Nice pics JJ (except one). Louise is smiling so all must have been well with the world. (Not that she doesn’t smile). Oh i’m getting in deep now.
I better start packing.

Mike Knipe said...

Louise - Bit like what?
Alan - If you stand on the highest point in Norfolkshire you can see the very tops of the Dutch Alps
Dawn - Ah the haggis. The beautiful haggis. One ate my porridge y'know. Cheeky.
Chrissie - Yes, it's snow. Put TGO on your list. You know it makes sense.
Alan - No more cutlery in futire episodes. Honest. Louise seemed to be in hysterics most of the time I saw her, but then again, so was I....

Louise said...

You know, a bit like that.
And was it hysterics or hysteria?

Mike Knipe said...

Louise - Both hysterics and hysteria may well involve giggling, so I can't be sure which was affecting your mood. It couldn't have been Denis's jokes....?